On Virtues and Vocations

IMG_0335To be holy and to be human, at the very same time.

On my way home from Texas, and the hill country west of San Antonio, where I’ve been speaking at the Laity Lodge. Each January they have an annual men’s retreat, bringing folks in from all over Texas and beyond. Eager, thoughtful, honest, yearning, old and young, grandfathers and sons and grandsons, we spent most of three days together, thinking about what it means to be a man.

I offered the Latin word “vir,” which is simply, profoundly, “man,” and we stepped into days of conversation about virtues and vocations, with tears and laughter over the realities of life in a world full of glories and shames, happiness and heartache. From musing over George Bailey and Ebenezer Scrooge with their own wrestling over the meaning of life, then Tom Wolfe and his novel about A Man in Full, onto Louis Zamperini and the dynamic of being unbroken and broken at the very heart of his heart, to Bob Dylan on the pain and painfulness of “the disease of conceit,” and finally J.I. Packer and why poverty of spirit is the first and deepest of all virtues, we ate great food, heard the best music, and spent hours listening and learning from and about each other.

I have been to this very special place in spring, summer, fall, and now winter. For a long time now, people have been coming here from all over the world, finding their way into a place where heaven meets earth, a “thin place” in Celtic spirituality. It is always a gift, and once again, it was for me.

We all had to go home, but for a few short days it was a taste of what we all long for, a little signpost of what someday will be.

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